Strange Double Standards

I get witnessed to fairly frequently which is absolutely to be expected as an outspoken atheist here in the South. Generally I don’t mind when someone wants to share with me their version of the gospel. I don’t mind it in the least so long as the individual taking the time to tell me the “Truth” is also willing to listen to what I have to say in regards to that “Truth”.   You see, I believe that if you are willing to share your faith with people (as Jesus commands in Mark 16) that you should also be willing to hear criticisms of that faith. It’s a simple trade really; most Christians are happy to tell me that I’ll go to hell for eternity if I don’t accept their brand of the faith so I should be allowed to criticize the faith that they get those beliefs from.

Even when a young evangelical does his or her best to avoid terms like Hell  and damnation there are certain underlying tones of the Gospel; that I along with everyone ever born am fully depraved and unworthy of salvation, or that there is actually something that I need to be saved from that though not as blatant in their attempt are still just as insulting to the human mind as more confrontational fire and brimstone tactics. Virtually any sort of evangelism being exacted upon myself is grounds for challenge. This should go without saying.

Unfortunately, for the most part, any sort of challenge to someones deeply held convictions is considered taboo or even insulting and disrespectful.  I’m frequently accused of these things by people who initially contact me in order to evangelize and I find this to be an utterly ridiculous double standard and blatant hypocrisy on their part. If one’s faith is worth it’s weight then it should not only be able to stand up to criticism but the believer should be willing to defend it – or as Paul allegedly put it:

But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry. ~ 2 Timothy 4:5


This is your job Christians – if you are willing to evangelize this is what your holy book tells you to do.  Take up your cross fully, or don’t bother at all. It is a strange and unfair double standard to expect the unbeliever to sit quietly while you promote your faith and in some cases condemn the whole lot of us to hell. Expect non-believers to digress and be prepared to engage with us, otherwise we’ll find it harder to respect you and believe it or not many of us dearly want to respect you.

  • Joseph Hilliard

    Couldn't agree more.The truth is, Matt, most Christians do not take up the whole armor of God, and come to the battle unprepared.I can certainly see the double standard you refer to, and agree that this should not be one-sided.

    • Thanks for commenting Joseph, you may already know this but if not – one of my major goals with my writing and engaging is to increase biblical literacy in this area. I am trying to challenge people to read what they say they believe and live their lives according to it's standard….I truly think your churches should add me to the pay roll.

  • We have to realize that when people insist on proselytizing, the only interest is in spewing information, not being open to receiving it. They aren't open to debate because they're not capable of debating. When your only source of evidence is a book written by misogynistic goat herders, it's impossible to be rational or reasonable. Keep fighting the good fight and remember that there are so many more of us out here.

    • Thanks Doro,

      What's worse to me is the number of people that believe that the Bible is God's Word yet refuse to read the book. So they have a strict belief in a book they haven't even read. More often than not, those that try to evangelize me have never read the Bible in full…barely even in part – this is one of the first questions I ask when someone shares their beliefs with me.

  • Link Janitor

    The "dearly want to respect you" link is producing an error: "Catchable fatal error: Object of class WP_Error could not be converted to string in /nfs/c07/h03/mnt/109674/domains/ on line 209."

    Good luck on the whole "respecting Christians" thing, although really, wouldn't you be better off just letting go and moving on? Fighting entrenched willful ignorance seems like about the most futile battle imaginable.

    • Thanks for that, I'll have to fix it once I get home.In the end I'll find a few willing to discuss their faith on a different level than before. Those that are beyond convincing don't last long anyway.

  • Jeanine

    I agree with your post Matt.As a Christian, there are a lot of double standards in the faith. However, it is my belief that they were not intended by God. These standards were put into play by half-ass believers, the almighty "better than thou" believers, etc. I know that you are a debater and damn good at it. What gripes my ass about the Christians that reply to alot of your stuff are so quick to judge you and your beliefs and yet that is one thing in the Bible that is stated, we should not judge.

  • Anon

    Shouldn't you be on a horse flirting with heath ledger or something?

    • Anonymous cowardice…very nice.

    • dooflotchie

      You gotta get the horse's dick out of your mouth first.

  • Sarah

    Sometimes when I read your blog, it's like you took things directly out of my head. You have suffered through so many of the same experiences as I have, growing up in a church in the south. I get what you're saying.

    I've been gradually shedding my Christian beliefs for several years now and it becomes fairly irksome to have to suffer through conversations about religion when I know they wouldn't want to know my opinion on it. It's often not worth speaking up about it because I'm not confrontational and I don't want to awaken the uncontrollable Jesus fits. I have Agnostic listed as my religion on my Facebook page, but fortunately most people don't check that or don't bring it up. I have had a few well meaning relatives confront me about it. One wrote me a lengthy letter about how they were praying for me and the other simply said 'Psalm 14:1'. How do you deal with this without causing ripples of awkwardness between people you have to see regularly? I haven't figured out a way yet, so I just suffer in silence. Sometimes I actually feel like I'm wrong because it's hard to fix 20+ years of brainwashing.

    You run into a circular logic thing too. If you confront them about their beliefs (which is what it's considered when you do it, not when they do it), then you are persecuting them and then they feel like Biblical prophecy is being fulfilled.

    • You have to make people's respect of you a requirement before you allow them to have any sort of dialog with you. If they refuse to respect you and your experiences they shouldn't be given one iota of your time.

      I've seen people that didn't respect me read some of my writing and change their minds. Once people know that you've already been where they are I think it forces them (some of them at least) to re-evaluate their evaluation of you. When people understand that I, and probably you, have actually spend a considerable amount of time trying to comprehend beliefs, specifically those promoted by the Bible or even further that I've spent far more time researching and studying "God's Word" than they have it becomes incredibly difficult for them to find fault in your conclusions when they've refused to even read the textbook.

  • Mike aka MonolithTMA

    Yeah, I've gotten the broken record, circular logic thing before. It's almost like mild autism the way some repeat their message.

  • LOL Mike – Mild Autism…wow.

  • You really don't mind when they witness to you? Man, I wish I had your frustration tolerance! This sort of thing drives me crazy.

    • Doesn't bother me at all really. I like the discussion.

  • aristander

    Should be "by people who initially contact me" rather than "by people whom."

  • Grey Glamer

    I posted this elsewhere, but I might as well add something of my comments there to your blog proper. I myself am more prone to refute scripture quotes by evangelists on their own terms, as I think there's plenty of ammo for doing so. Nine years of Catholic school, so I'm adept at playing the whole "faith vs works" game.

    Related to the whole "why aren't you emphasizing love of neighbor" response, however, the quintessential evangelistic mission statement occurs around the end of Luke, interestingly enough, and if I'm remembering my New Testament class, appears to be an emendation to the text. But to tack that call for witnessing onto the end of the Gospel most concerned with what we today call social justice – Well, there's either irony there, or else ground for arguing the "evangelism" in question concerns taking care of one another – especially the outcasts of society – much more than the sorts of doctrinal litmus tests evangelical Christians normally derive from Paul's epistles.

    But this argument comes from a liberal Catholic turned Pagan, so take these points with an appropriately-sized grain of salt. (Thrown over the shoulder, if you roll that way!) Be safe and be well!

    • Scripture is it's own worst enemy. It is meant to be adhered to within itself and anytime it fails to do so or the believer fails to do so (in doctrine) it is reasonable to call them out on it. I don't know many ministers who are willing to perform the actions of their ministry entirely for free…but the Bible demands it (I did when I was in the ministry, for the record), nor do I know many Christians willing to sell all of their possessions and live communally as the early Acts church did – but it is the supposed basis for their faith as we know it. To present an understanding of what the Church is supposed to be is one of my best tools in achieving a rapport with my Christian friends…were it not for that ability (which is really the ability to sound like a preacher scolding his flock) I don't think I'd be seen the way I am by those that do have respect for me.

  • Duane

    On another business focused board we have a few fundies who can't stop proselytizing. They love to tell everyone that they will be roasting in hell if they don't convert. One person told them that they didn't believe that any god would torture anyone forever and the fundie responded with "Watch out! You're offending god!"

    That's how crazy this people can get.

    • retort with, "Watch out, your offending me and I am God."

  • Why give these proselytizers the floor anyway? As soon as one these fundies starts in on me, I leave or ask them to do likewise.

  • Eamonn P Keyes

    Matt, I agree entirely with your points, and I think they're all the more telling because they're utterly reasonable. No cries to arms, insults or ridicule, just an attempt to exchange information about a very important issue.
    However, the main stumbling block is the self-righteousness exhibited by so many Christians.
    Being 100% right…and with God right beside you 24 hours a day to prove it….there's no need to listen to any alternative viewpoint. This is the way it is, and you should fall on your knees and thank them for their presentation of their interpretation of religion in its gift wrap of threats, abuse and negativity. No other comment is necessary. The truth shall set you free, and you'll be locked up just to prove that point,